Five children killed in Italy earthquake


An earthquake brought down the roof of a nursery school in Italy yesterday, trapping dozens of children as they were having a Halloween party. Firefighters said at least five children were killed, along with a woman who lived nearby.

More than eight hours after the quake struck, rescue teams pulled out three, dust-covered children from the rubble, but dozens remained inside, residents said.

Earlier in the day about 20 of the children and two of their teachers were pulled out, said firefighters in Rome, who were coordinating the rescue effort in San Giuliano di Puglia, a village about 50 miles northeast of Naples.

RAI state television said eight of the children rescued have critical injuries.

Long after nightfall, rescue workers continued to climb over the rubble of the collapsed yellow schoolhouse searching for survivors. From behind police tape, parents shouted out the names of children inside as they and other residents, some with their faces painted for Halloween, awaited information.

“They were all together in the school because they were having a Halloween party,” said Tonino Scarlatelli, an official in the Molise regional president’s office.

“Many buildings have collapsed throughout the village, we fear there might be other victims outside of the school,” he added.

The school is for young children, apparently between the ages of 3 and 6. But survivors told Italian television that older students from the town had joined younger ones in the school yesterday to teach them about Halloween, which has grown increasingly popular in recent years in Italy.

Russian ofcials present crisis evidence


Russian officials played scratchy audiotapes of intercepted telephone conversations for journalists yesterday, part of a Kremlin effort to prove that Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov was behind last week’s hostage crisis at a Moscow theater – and cannot be trusted as a partner for peace talks.

In one of the Chechen-language calls, played with a voiced-over Russian translation, a man identified as the hostage-takers’ leader, Movsar Barayev, said that “Shamil,” meaning Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, was present during preparations for the hostage-taking raid. “Shamil was acting on Aslan’s instructions,” the voice said.

Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said Maskhadov had been discredited, leaving Moscow with no one to negotiate with over Chechnya.

“There was other clear evidence that Mr. Maskhadov was fully aware of the developments and the people in the auditorium acted with his knowledge,” Yastrzhembsky said, though he offered no further proof of Maskhadov’s involvement in the standoff in which 119 people, not including the assailants, died.

U.S. needs more anti-missile rockets


The Pentagon needs more anti-missile rockets as it prepares for possible military action against Iraq, the head of the Missile Defense Agency said yesterday.

Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish said the United States has only about 40 of its most advanced Patriot missiles to defend against short-range ballistic and cruise missiles. Experts suspect Iraq alone has several times that many Scud and other short-range missiles, which could be topped with chemical or biological warheads.

Kadish said he would like to have many more of the advanced Patriots to counter threats from North Korea, Iran and Libya as well as Iraq.

The main contractors on the latest Patriot, known as Patriot Advanced Capability 3, can make two of the rockets per month, Kadish said. The Pentagon hopes to speed up that process, but doing so will take time, he said.

FBI takes on discreet role in terrorism war

CAIRO, Egypt

As the fighting winds down in Afghanistan, the focus of the war against terrorism is shifting from the battlefield to a shadowy world where wiretaps, informants, surveillance and forensic evidence have replaced bombs and bullets.

With those changes, the FBI is taking a leading role in the war, bringing high-tech investigative techniques to the search for terrorists far from America’s shores. The work can be tedious: sifting through the wreckage of a car bomb in Karachi, screening records of Middle East students at Asian flight schools, persuading local police to follow someone suspected of terrorist links or tracking down leads that don’t pay off.

FBI agents in Jordan have also joined the hunt for the killers of American diplomat Laurence Foley, who was gunned down Monday.

Election may shift power in Congress

Look for the Democrats to steer away from President Bush’s economic policies if they win the House on Tuesday. And expect the Republicans, if they retake the Senate, to move vigorously on judicial nominations the Democrats have bottled up. A lot more could change on Capitol Hill than who sits in the speaker’s or majority leader’s office.

To make much difference from the current Congress – Republicans control the House by seven seats, Democrats the Senate by one – one of the parties probably would have to win both chambers. That’s very much up in the air as Election Day nears. History suggests the president’s party will lose seats in a midterm election, but “it’s an unusual time, and I don’t think normal patterns apply,” said Ron Faucheux, editor of Campaigns & Elections, a magazine for politicians.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports.

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